The ghost of Stuxnet past

Posted by   Virus Bulletin on   Mar 11, 2015

Microsoft patches .LNK vulnerability after 2010 patch was found to be incomplete.

Mention Stuxnet and you'll have many a security researcher's attention. The worm, which was discovered in 2010, used a number of zero-day vulnerabilities to reach its target: air-gapped Windows PCs at the Natanz nuclear plant in Iran. Most prominent among these was CVE-2010-2568, which allowed an attacker to execute remote code through a specially crafted .LNK file.

The vulnerability could be triggered by plugging an infected USB drive into a vulnerable PC, thus allowing an attacker to bridge air gaps. Researchers from Kaspersky have since found that the same exploit was used by the 'Equation Group' even before Stuxnet.

Microsoft patched the vulnerability in August 2010, but earlier this year researchers from HP's Zero Day Initiative discovered that the patch was insufficient and still left an attack surface open.

The vulnerability was privately disclosed to Microsoft, who in yesterday's Patch Tuesday release, patched this vulnerability, while HP published a lengthy blog post with full details on this new vulnerability. It has been assigned CVE number CVE-2015-0096.

Chances are you don't run a nuclear plant. That doesn't mean you shouldn't patch this vulnerability though: the original vulnerability is still widely used by malware to trick an unpatched Windows PC into executing malicious libraries.

For the more paranoid, it is good to note that while the 2010 patch didn't fully solve the issue (and, speaking to Ars Technica, HP's Brian Gorenc said "it's hard to believe that somebody didn't know about this bug prior to it being patched today"), the workaround provided by Microsoft back in 2010 would have prevented further exploitation. It may still be a good idea to apply it on critical systems as its only impact is that shortcut icons will not be displayed.

  The work around involves disabling .LNK files from having their icons displayed.

This isn't the only reason to apply Microsoft's patches though: no fewer than five out of the 14 bulletins are rated 'critical', while another bulletin patches the FREAK vulnerability. For those who prefer their security information in audio format, Johannes Ullrich's excellent daily ISC Stormcast podcast provides a brief summary of the important issues.

On the subject of Stuxnet, I can't recommend Kim Zetter's book Countdown to Zero Day highly enough. I reviewed it for this blog last year.

Posted on 11 March 2015 by Martijn Grooten

twitter.png
fb.png
linkedin.png
googleplus.png
reddit.png

 

Latest posts:

Firefox 59 to make it a lot harder to use data URIs in phishing attacks

Firefox developer Mozilla has announced that, as of version 59 of the browser, many kinds of data URIs, which provide a way to create "domainless web content", will not be rendered in the browser, thus making this trick - used in various phishing…

Standalone product test: FireEye Endpoint

Virus Bulletin ran a standalone test on FireEye's Endpoint Security solution.

VB2017 video: Consequences of bad security in health care

Jelena Milosevic, a nurse with a passion for IT security, is uniquely placed to witness poor security practices in the health care sector, and to fully understand the consequences. Today, we publish the recording of a presentation given by Jelena at…

Vulnerabilities play only a tiny role in the security risks that come with mobile phones

Both bad news (all devices were pwnd) and good news (pwning is increasingly difficult) came from the most recent mobile Pwn2Own competition. But the practical security risks that come with using mobile phones have little to do with vulnerabilities.

VB2017 paper: The (testing) world turned upside down

At VB2017 in Madrid, industry veteran and ESET Senior Research Fellow David Harley presented a paper on the state of security software testing. Today we publish David's paper in both HTML and PDF format.